The dumpster fire that is 2016 is very nearly over. And, as we all drag ourselves out of the wreckage of this past year, it's once again time to start making New Year's resolutions. Maybe 2017 is the year that you're finally going to run that marathon. Maybe you're going to be more politically engaged this year, or start volunteering, or learn the clarinet. And maybe, just maybe, you'll actually make it through your To Be Read list for the first time in living memory. Here are a few tips to read more in the New Year, for all those over-scheduled book nerds out there.
Believe me, book nerds, I get it. You want to read more. If you had the option, you'd probably spend all day curled up with a book and a big mug of the hot beverage of your choice, letting all your responsibilities slide. But you don't have that option. You have to work or go to class, you have to run errands, and you occasionally might even have a social life. By the time you get home, you probably just want to sleep, or watch TV, or melt into the floor, because you don't have energy for much else.
But it is possible to read all those book you've been meaning to get to, even with only 24 hours in a day. Here are a few tips to help you stress less and read more:
1. Make the time
It sounds so simple, but if you love to read you need to make the time to read. Sit down with your daily schedule, and schedule times to read. Put "reading" on your to-do list. Set a phone alarm to remind you to read. If you don't have much free time in an average day, try waking up half an hour early to read a chapter, reading a chapter right before bed, or reading on your daily commute (as long as you're not also driving).
2. Read books you enjoy
I don't want to shock you, but it turns out that reading is more fun if you actually like the book you're reading. I mean, sure, if you're determined to muscle your way through Infinite Jest or War and Peace, go for it. But in general, read what you want to read, not what you think you should read. Setting aside a book you don't enjoy is not a cardinal sin. If you're really invested in the book, you'll make the time to finish.
3. Speed read
If you're truly pressed for time, there are many websites devoted to speed reading. Through a little practice, you actually can increase your average reading speed. You're (probably) not going to gain Flash-like speed powers and start finishing whole books in minutes, but you can certainly save time and read faster without sacrificing comprehension.
4. Join a book club
Want to read books and still have time to interact with living, non-fictional people? Join a book club! Book clubs are an easy, fun way to combine reading, friends, and drinking wine in the afternoon. Start a club with your friends to tackle all those books you want to read, or join an existing book club to meet new people and find new authors. You can even join a virtual book club, if the wine drinking aspect isn't that important to you.
5. Get a reading buddy
Book clubs are great... but if you want to read Russian short stories and your friend wants to read YA dystopia novels, it might be helpful to opt for a "reading buddy" instead. This way, you don't necessarily have to read the same book at the same time, but you do have to set reading goals together and stick to them. Basically, you keep nagging each other until you put down Candy Crush and read another chapter.
6. Lock yourself out of the internet
Yup. If you find yourself wasting all your reading time on Facebook or Instagram, download a self-control app (even if you're on Instagram looking at pictures of books). Find an hour every day to unplug and read instead. The Youtube videos of baby otters yawning will still be there when you get back.
7. Find your reading style
Do you read best in the mornings? In the bathtub? On the train? During your lunch break? In the coffee shop while trying to make eye contact with the cute barista? Figure out your ideal reading environment so you know how best to use your precious reading time.
8. Keep a TBR list
You might have a vague idea of all the books you want to read, but it helps to write them down in list form. Crossing titles off when you finish them and getting hyped about the books further down the list is a great way to stay motivated. Personally, I keep all my "to read" books on the same shelf so they can sit there, mocking me.
9. Try audiobooks
Yes, audiobooks count as real books! Download audiobooks and read while you walk, drive, commute, clean, run, or whatever else you have to do—it's probably the easiest way to up your book consumption without cutting anything else out.
10. Set goals and deadlines
Remember how much fun you had with reading homework? No? Well too bad, because setting deadlines really does help. Set a goal for when you want to finish the book you're reading, and do your best to reach it. If weeks are going by and you just can't finish, it's OK to set a book aside for a bit and start on something new.
11. Always carry a book
It's pretty hard to read if you don't have a book. Get into the habit of carrying a book with you everywhere, and pretty soon you'll get into the habit of reading everywhere you go, too.